Weeks later, it’s still difficult to think about it – too painful to realize that he’s no longer with us.  Luis Alberto Spinetta, the beloved El Flaco, passed away on February 8 of this year.  He was only 62.

It’s no coincidence that Spinetta’s wondrous brand of Latin rock is known predominantly within the borders of his native Argentina.  His music was seeped in the one-of-a-kind melancholy sensibility of Buenos Aires and its jasmine-scented neighborhoods.  “Careful with El Flaco,” a friend of mine used to warn me.  “It can get a bit claustrophobic when you listen to his stuff.”  His stuff – a prodigious discography that includes albums as a solo singer, as well as with seminal bands Almendra, Pescado Rabioso, Invisible and Spinetta Jade – can also sound a bit dated, particularly the songs he recorded in the ’70s and ’80s.

But the gorgeous melodies remain, as well as the extreme sensitivity of his lyrics.  Spinetta was a genius and a pioneer – terms that we don’t use lightly here at The Latin Alternative.  If you’re interested in the history of South American rock, do yourself the favor and discover his work.  In the meantime, here’s the enigmatic “Ludmila,” recorded in 1984 with then brand new electronic drums and a sinuous guitar line that will never go out of style.

Se te extraña, Flaco.  Un abrazo.